Shell backing off on Yampa River water rights fight |

Shell backing off on Yampa River water rights fight

Staff reportPost independentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Shell Frontier Oil & Gas this week pulled back from its hotly contested fight to obtain 375 cubic feet per second in conditional water rights out of the Yampa River.Shell’s local representative, Carolyn Tucker, explained the company’s Feb. 23 decision to withdraw its application for the water rights.”We took a good, long, hard look at our research and development activities,” she said, and decided that the “project pace” had been slowed by the ongoing recession and other factors to the point where the water rights fight no longer made sense.She stressed that the company will continue to work on its pilot project in Rio Blanco County. The company hopes to heat the shale rock in place underground and pump out the petroleum-like kerogen, while protecting surrounding groundwater supplies with a “freeze-wall” enclosing the heated area.”We have adequate water” for the pilot project, she said, explaining that the commercial viability of oil shale development remains an unknown number of years into the future.She said the company will continue to seek leases for additional sites for its ongoing research and development activities.According to a statement from the environmental group, Western Resource Advocates, Shell’s water rights application could have resulted in a reservoir capable of storing 60,000 acre feet of water.”Western Resource Advocates commends Shell for withdrawing its application for … water rights in the Yampa, one of the last free-flowing rivers in the West,” the organization said in a statement.

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